Amazon has launched the Welcome Door program, a new initiative to provide refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees with additional resources and support, along with reimbursement for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) fees. The program also offers employees access to upskilling opportunities, including free college tuition and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency through the Career Choice program.
Additionally, Amazon is among the companies that have pledged to provide for the immediate needs and longer-term support for people fleeing Ukraine.
“We have a variety of jobs and welcome all kinds of people, and we’re proud to offer enhanced support for refugees around the world,” said Ofori Agboka, Amazon’s vice president of People eXperience and Tech for Operations. “Being displaced from your homeland and having to start again somewhere new is challenging and emotional. It is an honor and a privilege to help make that transition easier and help people start again. Across our entire business and at all levels, we’re working with refugees to secure jobs and get the support they need.”
Once refugees arrive in their new communities, they often face prominent obstacles when seeking jobs and resettlement support. In addition to language barriers and limited government resources, refugees with professional experience often have gaps in their careers, which can limit their knowledge of the latest developments within an industry, according to Upwardly Global, a nonprofit that helps refugees rebuild their careers.
"Through my own experience, I have found that it is challenging to migrate to a new country, find a proper job, and learn a new language while overcoming social and financial challenges," said Khalid Noorzad, an Afghan refugee. "Through Welcome Door, Amazon is addressing these challenges and providing employees peace of mind and the opportunity to just focus on their work, so I look forward to these new offerings.”
Through the new Welcome Door program, Amazon refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees will have access to several new resources, including:
- Reimbursement for EAD renewal fees, which cost on average roughly $500 every other year.
- A new Citizenship Assistance Portal that will fully support U.S. citizenship applications for all eligible employees.
- Ongoing communications that will highlight policy changes that may impact an employee’s immigration status.
- Free legal resources to help navigate immigration-related questions and the ability to connect with immigration experts.
- Access to skills training benefits including free college tuition and ESL proficiency through Amazon’s Career Choice program.
- Customized mentorship.
These new resources will be offered to Amazon employees in the U.S. starting in April, and the company plans to expand the program globally by the end of the year.
“We’re very proud of Amazon’s commitment to better support its refugee employees, joining other companies in the Tent Partnership that are going above and beyond to give refugees the help they need to integrate in their new communities,” said Veronica Rossini, acting executive director at the Tent Partnership for Refugees. “With millions of people fleeing war and conflict in countries like Afghanistan and Ukraine, a good job is one of the most impactful ways for refugees to build a new life. I hope the Welcome Door program inspires many more businesses to ensure these incredibly talented, resourceful, and dedicated people have the tools and support they need to thrive in their careers.”
As part of its pledge to help upskill the American workforce, Amazon recently announced a commitment to fully fund college tuition, books, and fees, as well as high school diplomas, GEDs, college preparatory courses, and ESL proficiency certifications, for its front-line hourly employees through the Career Choice program. Employees who have been with Amazon for as little as 90 days are eligible to begin this program and can participate for an unlimited time as long as they remain Amazon employees.
Along with an average starting pay of $18 per hour—more than double the federal minimum wage—Amazon offers a comprehensive benefits package to all regular full-time employees, which includes health insurance from an employee’s first day on the job, a 401(k) plan with a company match, up to 20 weeks of paid leave for birthing parents, free mental health support, access to subsidized skills training opportunities, and more.